Title: The Selection (#1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Published: April 24, 2012
Series: The Selection
Goodreads Summary: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
It was okay.
I was excited to finally give 'The Selection' a shot, unfortunately, it didn't meet my expectations. I was most astonished about the lightness of the story - it was easy, breezy, and girly. I'd call this a chick-lit any day over dystopia.
I found the idea of actual ranks in the society quite interesting but it didn't seem to mean much except for determine a person's wealth, or lack thereof, and attitude (the richer were snottier.)
Did they live amongst each other or was it divided? Were there certain rules and laws in favor for or against you depending on your caste? Why was it that the castes had to stick to their specific line of occupations? Etc.
My guess is that most of those rating this book three stars or less had hopes for the dystopia, world-building, or riveting plot, which 'The Selection' did not deliver.
I was shocked to get halfway through the book and realizing the story had basically been about the protagonist, America, just walking around and talking to people. The entire book turned out to be about her just walking around and talking to people. In other words; nothing happened. There was no high point, no low point, no plot.
The rebels attacked and everyone would just sit in a room and wait it out. Everyone is in grave danger and people are crying or passing out, but they're essentially just sitting in a room. The reader is told about the danger, but never get to experience it. Cass could've given the story a kick if she'd chosen a less convenient route in these matters.
America enters the Selection to help her family, making it clear she's there against her will and dislikes the whole thing, though, I don't agree it conveyed in her behavior. She was very inconsistent, seemingly unable to make up her mind about things. Though, generally calm, she'd suddenly be rude or dramatic towards Maxon.
Maxon being a character I just could not connect with or really find a reason to like. I didn't see Maxon the handsome prince, I saw an awfully formal, one-dimensional teenage boy. I couldn't find anything alluring about him at all.
And we have Aspen rounding up the love triangle. I don't prefer reading about protagonists with boyfriends, simply because you, as the reader, don't get to fall in love along with the heroine.
Instead, you're already supposed to like him, which isn't a given you will. And I didn't necessarily. Not because Aspen wasn't okay, but because I never knew why America and Aspen were good together. I didn't see it and I wasn't told about it. They just were.
So America loves Aspen with all her being and might be falling for Maxon, and I have no idea why this is or how it's come about. None of it was convincing for me.
The book and the writing was okay, it just featured a much underdeveloped story with an uneventful plot. I won't be continuing the trilogy but would still recommend 'The Selection' as a beach read.